‘Tis the season of all things scary, and we here at MOARGeek felt that there was no better way to get into the Halloween spirit than ghosts, ghouls and games. Since we’re not currently in possession of the first two, we decided to go with a dark, ominous version of option three, with a review of the remastered edition of Russian cult favorite Pathologic Classic HD.
In true Halloween fashion, fashion, Pathologic Classic HD contains three components that have been a staple of the horror genre for decades: creepy towns, death and disease. There are three characters that must traverse through a land that the word sketchy doesn’t even begin to do justice. A mysterious dark plague decimates the area and it is up to you to survive and get to the root of the problem.
The opening sequence gives you a scroll down backstory and sets the tone for the cerebral journey that is to come. With more twists than a bad M. Night Shyamalan movie, this game aims to mess with the mind.
It is very important to note that Pathologic Classic HD is not the remake promised from Ice Pick Lodge’s successful Kickstarter campaign, which is slated for release in Fall 2016, but it is a remaster of the 2005 game of the same name. Meaning that though it has recently been released, it is not actually new. The gameplay feels essentially like I would imagine the original would with minimal graphic updates.
The beginning of the game gives you the choice of three characters, The Bachelor, The Haruspex and The Changeling, to embark on the journey with. This aspect provides unique startpoints and points of view, but the paths ultimately link up to a singular story. There’s also a choose your own adventure aspect of the story, but unlike the character selection, it feels as though there’s a sense of unpredictability to the end results.
The start of the game feels slightly longer and more drawn out than necessary, especially following a strong exposition that sets the scene of the world the characters live in quite nicely. While the slow start appears to have the purpose of building suspense, it really kills the small amount of steam the game builds up from a strong opening. The pacing of the game has a hamper the game’s intrigue throughout the game.
In a bare sense of gameplay, Pathologic is as simple of an adventure role playing get as you can get. As you move along the map and complete the missions and side quests, you must find the secrets to the town that led to the current desolate state while maintaining the conditions for yourself and the area by gathering certain items. The simplistic goal structure is effective because it makes physically playing the game easy enough four players to appreciate the concept.
Perhaps the Russian-to-English translation played the key factor in this aspect, but something felt a bit off about quite a few dialogue sections. The dialogue oddities are indicative of the gameplay as a whole.
The graphics are nothing special and could easily be considered outdated if not considering that this Pathologic Classic HD is just a touched up version from the 2005 version. The motions are not exactly smooth, or too choppy, so they are passable in terms of functionality. When viewed from a prism from 10 years ago, the graphics still aren’t eye popping, but aren’t bad for the time.
The ominous soundscape of the game really adds to the aura of mysteriousness that the game is hyped about. The brooding score is only matched by the deafening sound of silence throughout much of the game.
Conceptually, Pathologic Classic HD is one of the most fascinating adventure RPG’s you’ll ever play. The backstory provides a solid entrance into a very layered and intriguing story that feels almost like a found-footage documentary style horror movie that has become popular as of late. Though the concept was solid, the execution felt like there was something lost in translation. Being that it is a Russian game from 2005, it is to be expected that playing an English version of the game in 2015 would yield a slightly different result. Overall, Pathologic Classic HD is very interesting, but not exactly fun by traditional standards.